Half a million parents missing out on child benefits worth £1,100 or more a year – how to claim | The Sun

MORE THAN half a million parents are missing out on child benefits worth at least £1,133 a year.

Almost £1billion in child benefits is going unclaimed in total.

But as the cost of living crisis continues to stretch wages, claiming all the cash help available is more important than ever.

Estimates from EntitledTo suggest that around 575,000 families aren't claiming child benefit when they could be.

Some families choose not to claim the cash because of the high-income child benefit tax charge, which requires them to repay the support.

Regardless, a pot of £944million that could be claimed is sitting untouched.

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We explain all you need to know about child benefit so you can claim for extra help if you need it.

How much is child benefit?

In April this year, child benefit rates were increased to help with soaring living costs.

The rise means that families can expect the following payments from HMRC if they claim child benefit:

  • £21.80 a week for the first or only child
  • £14.45 a week for each child thereafter

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That's £1,133.60 a year if you have one child, or £1,885 if you have two.

Previously, rates were £21.15 for the first or only child, and £14 a week for every other child.

This means families will see an extra £33.80 and £23.60 a year for each rate – or an extra £57.40 in total.

High-income child benefit charge

Some parents have to repay part or all of the child benefit in certain cases.

You will be required to pay back 1% of your child benefit for every £100 of income over £50,000.

Once you reach an income of £60,000, you have to repay the full amount.

But some parents will continue to claim child benefit despite the charge as it helps them build up national insurance credits, which you need to qualify for the state pension.

Who is eligible for child benefit?

Not everyone can apply for the cash.

In order to qualify, you have to be living in the UK and responsible for a child who is 16 or under.

Though you can also grab the support if your child is under 20-years-old and still in approved training or education.

In order to be responsible for a child, you are required to live with them or be paying the same amount as child benefit rates to provide things like clothes and food.

If your child goes into hospital or other care, or if they begin living with someone else, your eligibility can change.

It's best to contact the child benefit office directly if you're still not sure whether you can claim.

How do I claim child benefit?

To claim child benefit, you'll need to apply online through the government's website.

Only one person can get the cash support for each child, so you have to decide which parent that will be.

If your application is successful, you can expect a child benefit payment every four weeks or a Monday or Tuesday.

But certain people can request to have the payment weekly, like those on other benefits such as Income Support, or anyone who is a single parent.

The money can be paid into almost any account, excluding a Nationwide cashbuilder account in someone else's name.

What other benefits can I get?

Child benefit isn't the only support that people could be missing out on.

Over five million people are thought to be missing out on benefits as a whole, with Universal Credit estimated as the biggest unclaimed pot, with £7.46billion.

Council tax support also has an unclaimed pot of roughly £2.7billion that could go to nearly three million people.

If you think you may be eligible for other benefits, there are quick and easy online calculator tools to help you check.

Entitledto's free calculator determines whether you qualify for various benefits, tax credits and Universal Credit, but this isn't the only one available.

Consumer group MoneySavingExpert.com, charities StepChange and Turn2Us, and analytics company Policy in Practice all have benefits calculators free to use as well.

But remember, even though a calculator can work out what you're entitled to, you'll have to make a claim for the benefit yourself.

Can benefits be backdated?

If you've realised you could've been claiming benefits, you may be able to get some payments backdated.

Different benefits have different rules regarding backdated pay, though.

For example, you can get child benefit and pension credit backdated for up to three months. 

While new claims for Universal Credit, income support and housing benefit can be backdated for a maximum of one month.

You can apply to backdate your benefit payments when applying for the benefit, or you can request your benefits to be backdated by writing to the Department for Work and Pensions, HMRC, or your local council.

Just note that you’ll have to provide evidence as to why you weren't able to make a claim earlier.

This could be because:

  • The online claims system was down
  • You have a disability
  • You’re unwell 
  • You’re making a new claim after breaking up with your partner

Meanwhile, thousands are owed a payout after DWP underpaid £2.6billion in error – we reveal a list of people affected.

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And thousands who are new to Universal Credit could qualify for a £325 cost of living payment.

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